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Warning: Some eclipse glasses may not be safe

August 16, 2017

Counterfeit lenses discovered, recall issued by Amazon

Eye-care specialists are sounding the alert as counterfeit solar filter sunglasses have been discovered just days before Monday’s eclipse.

Amazon.com issued a recall of some solar eclipse glasses, saying it could not confirm from the suppliers that the glasses came from a recommended manufacturer.

A Norfolk optometrist recently learned that the glasses his office distributed were not authentic despite bearing the ISO 12312-2 code that indicates they meet the standard of the

International Organization for Standardization, the Norfolk Daily News reported.

Locally, Dr. Kim Baxter, an optometrist at Complete Eyecare Associates, said it is of great importance to check eclipse glasses to make sure not only that they have the correct ISO number, but that they are not compromised.

“I know that Amazon just put the word out that some of the eclipse glasses they have sold, they realize now that they’re not technically approved,” Baxter said. “The glasses we have been giving out, when you put them on, you almost can’t see your hand in front of your face, they’re that dense.”

Baxter said people can go online to the American Astronomical Society website at aas.org/media/press-releases/aas-offers-updated-advice-safely-viewing-solar-eclipse, which lists reputable vendors for solar filters and viewers.

“That would be an easy way for people to check them just by the brand on them,” Baxter said.

The AAS website also offers advice on how to tell if a solar viewer is unsafe.

“You shouldn’t be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except the sun itself or something comparably bright, such as the sun reflected in a mirror, a sunglint off shiny metal, the hot filament of an unfrosted incandescent light bulb, a bright halogen light bulb, a bright-white LED bulb (including the flashlight on your smartphone), a bare compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb, or an arc-welding torch,” the website says. “All such sources (except perhaps the welding torch) should appear quite dim through a solar viewer. If you can see shaded lamps or other common household light fixtures (not bare bulbs) of more ordinary brightness through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, and you’re not sure the product came from a reputable vendor, it’s no good.”

On eclipse day, parents and others supervising children will need to keep a close watch to keep them safe.

“While we have the glasses on, as you can imagine, we’re not going to be able to see what our kids are doing,” Baxter said. “I didn’t think about that until about a week or two ago, and I realized you can’t see anything with those things on.”

People who are supervising kids need to look away every few minutes and take their glasses off to make sure the kids have theirs on, Baxter said.

Tami Eshleman, associate superintendent of North Platte Public Schools, said the schools are taking precautions to protect the children in their care during the eclipse.

The North Platte Convention and Visitors Bureau is donating solar viewing glasses for all schoolchildren in Lincoln County.

“We have partnered with the visitors bureau and we are using the glasses they have graciously donated to us that meet all the regulations,” Eshleman said. “The other piece of that is the glasses are going to be handed out the day of the eclipse.”

Eclipse glasses should not be used if they are scratched, torn or damaged, according to the AAS website.

Looking at the sun without proper eye protection is never a good thing, Baxter said.

“The important thing is that people need to have these on consistently while they are watching the eclipse except when it reaches the total eclipse phase, which lasts only a couple of minutes,” Baxter said. “When there is no sun visible, there is kind of shimmer around the moon as it completely blocks the sun.”

This is called the corona. During the total eclipse phase, Baxter said, people can take the glasses off, and then they’ll be able to see the stars and planets.

“As soon as the sun begins to show around the moon again and they see a little sliver of light, they need to get (the eclipse glasses) back on,” Baxter said.